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Development Trust brings new ‘Wallace Close’ to the town

The Development Trust hopes that the revamped close is the first of many in the town

The Lanark Community Development Trust has transformed one of the town’s closes into a new ‘Wallace Close’ as it looks to showcase Lanark’s William Wallace connection.

The artwork of the Wallace Close is based on an ancient illustrative style, similar to that of the Bayeux Tapestry, with each of the panels in the close depicting an aspect of William Wallace’s life in Lanark – from marrying Marion Braidfute at St Kentigern’s Church, to slaying Sherriff Heselrig before fleeing into the Clyde woodlands.

The close, nearest The Tolbooth, leads from the High Street to Bernards Wynd car park.

The Development Trust brought in Ali Smith, director of Art Pistol Projects, to take on the artistic leadership of the project and undertake the spray paint artwork in the close. Mural artwork by Art Pistol Projects can be seen around Glasgow, with works including large-scale portraits of comedian Billy Connolly and the recent tribute to Charles Rennie Mackintosh celebrating the 150th anniversary of the famous architect, designer and artist.

As part of the project, Art Pistol Projects facilitated two creative workshops at Lanark Grammar with a group of Higher and National 5 Art and Design students.
In the workshops, the students researched William Wallace and developed visual ideas and graphics for the close artwork. They were also shown a range of techniques used in spray paint art including the intricacies of cutting templates and using layers in a design. Three of the students who took part in the workshops also spent time during their Summer Holidays assisting with the actual artwork in the close.

Funders of the project include the Border Biscuits Community Support Fund, Greggs the Bakers through their Local Community Projects Fund and Western Recreation Trust. 

Sylvia Russell, chair of the Development Trust, believes this project can act as a catalyst to improve closes across the town.

She said: “We’re delighted with the results of the ‘Wallace Close’ in the High Street and hope that locals and visitors will enjoy the fantastic designs.

“It’s been great working on such a creative project, and seeing the involvement and enthusiasm of the young Lanark Grammar students.

“The long-term plan for us, and an aim of the Discover Lanark Business Improvement District, is to transform more closes in the High Street based on other aspects of Lanark’s history – drawing in tourists and making them more pleasant spaces for locals to use regularly. Watch this space!”

The Development Trust has already undertaken a range of projects to promote Wallace’s links with Lanark, including the development of the Wallace Trail leaflet route and the creation of the Wallace Rose Garden, complete with carved William Wallace statue in Castlebank Park.
The Development Trust has also recently commissioned a feasibility study to assess the development opportunities of St Kentigern’s as a local tourism asset.

Liz Meechan, acting principal teacher of creative and aesthetic studies at Lanark Grammar, added: “Both the school and the Art and Design department were delighted to have the chance to work in partnership with Lanark Community Development Trust and Art Pistol Projects.  Our pupils have been given an excellent opportunity to not only improve their skill set for learning, life and work but to contribute in a ‘hands on’ way to the wider community.”